Heart Fitness: The Path to a Stronger, Healthier You

Heart fitness is something that we all hear about and think about every day, through various advertisements, and everyday news. That is because the heart is the most important organ in the body, just ahead of the brain in ranking of importance. The heart is known to beat approximately 2.5 billion times during the course of an average lifespan that spans 75 years.

Over the course of a life, it will pump gallons of blood to the body by the millions. This blood carries with it oxygen and essential nutrients that keep us all alive. When the heart goes, everything else will stop working. A healthy heart is important for the overall health of an individual. It will impact your stress levels, daily activities, and your overall sense of wellness. 

Learn more about heart fitness here, and get tips for a healthy heart that you can start using today.

Understanding Heart Fitness

Heart fitness is a critical element to overall wellness and staying healthy for as long as you can. Heart fitness refers to the concept of keeping your heart healthy and pumping the way that you want and need it to in order to stay active and alive. The heart runs the cardiovascular system and is responsible for everything that you do. It transports oxygen to every part of your body and keeps your immune system functioning so that it can fight off disease and viruses or bacteria.

Heart fitness is important because it keeps us healthy. When you don’t have a good quality of heart fitness, it is harder to breathe which makes it more difficult to function in everyday life. You could experience a shorter lifespan if you do not have good heart fitness.

One study was run in the United Kingdom that looked at the link between heart fitness and longevity. This study took approximately four years and examined over 341 thousand participants for heart fitness and cardiovascular health. The study looked at lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, activity levels, and body mass index or overall body weight composition.

The study also reviewed blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels and included a fasting test to determine heart fitness and heart health. When the participants were looked at in a follow-up eleven years later. They found that 18 thousand participants had died with many of them having lower cardiovascular health scores than the participants that had survived. This study indicated that poor cardiovascular health scores increased the risk of mortality or death in males by 62 percent and in females by 53 percent.

The results of this study are replicated in doctor’s visit after doctor’s visit where heart health is examined. Every medical doctor will impress upon their patients the need for good heart fitness and heart health when any lifestyle factor or physiological problem occurs that sends them to the doctor. 

The simple fact is that good heart health means a longer life. It also means a better quality of life. Take control of your heart health today by taking action with good heart health tips.

Benefits of a Strong Heart

There are many benefits of a strong heart that can help you to stay alive longer. It is not just a cliché. Heart problems are the leading cause of death in the United States, with one person dying every 33 seconds as a result of heart disease or heart attack. It is estimated that heart attacks impact over 695 thousand people in the United States annually, and are the cause of one in five deaths.

This problem will cost Americans and the American healthcare system over 239 billion annually. That includes health care services, and also the loss of productivity as a result of death. Medication also constitutes a large component of this cost.

The advantages of having a healthy heart are clear. When we have a healthy heart, we lead better and longer lives. We can work for longer periods of time during the day and also work for more years in our lives than we could if we had heart problems. At the same time, we can have regular activities that aren’t impacted by shortness of breath or elevated blood pressure.

It is not difficult to locate strategies to keep your heart healthy. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, maintain your weight, and maintain an active lifestyle. Start using these tips today and your heart will begin to heal on its own.

Strategies for Improving Heart Fitness

The strategies for good heart fitness are simple. Eat right, exercise when you can, and sleep well. You also want to include moderation for some activities like drinking alcohol, and quit smoking as early as you can in life if you have started. Additionally, the role that stress plays in the heart must be weighed.

Put these guidelines into your everyday life:

  • Healthy diet
  • Regular activity or exercise
  • Stress management

Diet for a Healthy Heart

When you create a healthy heart diet for yourself, you will see the results for yourself. This will improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, your overall weight, and even your risk for getting diabetes. You want to focus on eating fresh and unprocessed foods and having a balanced diet.

A balanced diet means a lot of fruit and vegetables, and some whole grain products in your regular eating. Fruit and vegetables on a regular basis are good for your heart and cardiovascular system. They are also good in helping you to control your weight and overall body composition.

Make sure that you eat protein-rich food, and that can include many dairy products as well. Add whole grain rice and pasta, and breads to your regular eating patterns. You’ll also hear of eating healthy fats and oils such as olive oils and canola oils that will help to lower your blood cholesterol levels.

Avoid things like salt which will increase your blood pressure, and use herbs and spices instead. Chocolate, potato chips, and food with high sugar content like candy or drinks should also be avoided. Watch your portion size as well, as this will impact your heart health too.

Exercise for a Strong Heart

Exercising for a strong heart is an important part of overall fitness and heart fitness. The benefits are clear. Exercise will lower your blood pressure and help you to maintain an active weight. Exercise will also help you to strengthen your muscles which will help you to lose weight. This can also help you to quit smoking.

When you start adding exercise into your every day, you will notice that you want to smoke less because your daily activities are easier and more enjoyable when you aren’t smoking. At the same time, the endorphin release you get from exercise will also beat the endorphin rush from smoking, and can even replace it all together.

With regular exercise comes less stress, an important component of heart fitness. Try activities like running regularly, or taking a daily walk that is brisk enough to get your heart rate going. Get into the habit of doing things like parking your car farther away from buildings. Choose stairs and walk indoors when bad weather keeps you inside. It is a good idea to get a fitness tracker or app that can help you see your progress and results as you get better at living an active lifestyle.

Stress Management

Stress management is an important step in heart fitness, as it will help you to lower your blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Conversely, when you have high-stress levels, your heart will suffer. Your sleep will suffer and you may use strategies to feel less stress like eating or drinking too much of something that will impact your heart.

Some common stress reduction techniques include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and other holistic remedies that can help you unwind. Use diffusers with essential oils in the home to help as well. Create calming and relaxing environments in order to feel less stress in your everyday life.

Lifestyle Choices for Heart Health

There are a number of things you can do with your lifestyle to have a healthier heart. Stop smoking, sleep better, and moderate your alcohol consumption.

Smoking Cessation

When you stop smoking, your heart is healthier within minutes. When you start smoking again, you have to start from scratch to resume the healing your heart will take after smoking. With smoking comes an increased risk of heart disease and heart attack.

There are many resources that can help you to quit smoking. Try nicotine patches or gum to help you to quit smoking. Your doctor can help you to quit smoking as well. There are many medications you can try to quit smoking when all else has failed. Get into the mindset of wanting to quit, and you have won half the battle.

Alcohol Moderation

Alcohol consumed at high levels is linked to high blood pressure and stroke. You want to live a lifestyle where alcohol does not play a major role. Moderate your consumption by simply drinking less. If you drink a lot now, come up with a schedule to drink less.

Quality Sleep

We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, and there is a reason for that. The body needs it. The average adult needs up to eight hours of sleep a day. When you are sleeping your body works to rest your brain and your heart so that it can work at full steam when you wake up. When you lose time in sleep, your health will suffer.

You always can make that time up, but your day will still suffer as a result. Your heart will also suffer. Sleep balances your hormones and helps to heal any issues or minor problems going on with your heart right now. Some heart issues can be resolved with a good night’s sleep. Avoid nicotine or caffeine close to bed, and get into a habit where you go to bed and wake up on the same schedule daily.

Keep your bedroom dark at night. You also want to have quiet time for the hour before you try to fall asleep every single day.

Monitoring and Prevention

Regular checkups with the doctor are an important part of staying heart-healthy. Knowing the warning signs of heart problems will help as well.

Regular Checkups

Talk to your doctor about a heart-healthy checkup if you are concerned about your heart health. Your doctor will want to run blood pressure and cholesterol checks and will test your blood glucose levels. You may get a body mass index measurement as well to check your weight composition.

If there is a problem, you may see other tests such as an EKG or a cardiac stress test. Advanced testing will be ordered if your heart health is significantly declined.

Recognizing Heart Health Warning Signs

There are some obvious signs of heart problems and others that are not so obvious. Shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, and weakness are common signs you have a heart problem. You may also see swelling in the legs and feet.

If you have problems exercising at all, or find yourself wheezing with slight activity, you will want to have your heart checked. Other signs include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Belly swelling
  • Rapid weight gain or fluid buildup
  • Nausea or lack of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Chest pain

When these symptoms occur, seek immediate medical attention. You will also want to begin adopting heart fitness strategies.

Improve Heart Health Today

You can begin improving your heart health today by eating better, moderating alcohol consumption, practicing better sleeping habits, and quitting smoking if you need to. Adding exercise to your daily activities will help as well. If you are experiencing any of the signs of heart fitness struggling, you need to see a doctor to have some tests done. Don’t ignore your heart problems as they will not go away on their own. Prevent them with some lifestyle changes today.

Photo of author

Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/heart-health
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8904213/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/7-heart-benefits-of-exercise
  5. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/Bundles/Healthy-Living-and-Eating/healthy-eating
  6. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-healthy-living/sleep